Simply speaking, tenants do not have the right to withhold rent even if the landlord does not carry out repairs. If you withhold rent your Landlord can choose to evict you and this will affect your right to remain in the property.
In some circumstances, a tenant can pay for repairs and deduct the cost from future rent. Using rent in this way may be quicker than court action and avoids legal costs for both the tenant and the landlord. You should put this in clear writing if you choose to do so as you don't want your Landlord to think that you are not paying rent.
To be clear you should not withhold rent and advise your Landlord to do the repairs. Withholding rent until repairs are done by your Landlord could result in your eviction.
This option is not viable for many renters as it means paying out of pocket which many of us cannot afford.
Procedure to withhold rent and pay for repairs
If a landlord has clearly breached a repairing obligation, tenants have the right under common law to do the repair themselves and deduct the costs and expenses of doing so from future rent payments.
Correct procedure must be followed and adequate notice and estimates of costs must be submitted to the landlord in advance of the work being done so that s/he has the opportunity to do the works her/himself. Keep all evidence such as receipt and letters from contractors for your records and provide your Landlord with a copy.
If the correct procedure is followed, the tenant will have a complete defence to any possession action taken for rent arrears resulting from the deduction of repair costs from rent. The steps to follow are:
This procedure has its advantages and disadvantages. It is quicker than legal action, although you would be surprised how much quicker Landlords act once Solicitors get involved.
Please note, if the tenancy agreement states that tenant cannot use rent to pay for repairs, this is likely to be an unfair term, which will not be binding on the tenant.
Can I withhold rent or get a rent reduction for repairs